8 travel tips for your next trip to Germany

by Kim on July 18, 2013

8 Travel Tips for Your Next Trip to Germany

Germany is a diverse and interesting country, a true adventure for any tourist. The cities are vibrant, loud and dynamic, time flies and so do the people. On the other side smaller towns and villages own this inexplicable calmness giving the impression that rush has been thrown out of their dictionaries. Germany is one of the developed countries in possession of progressive industry, flattering economic standard and exceptional system of education. These we’re all accomplished through years of peoples hard work and great will, aiming to make immense for the notorious course of this country’s history.

As a tourist or an expat recently moved to Germany there are several thing to bear in mind before you enter the deep waters of this county’s culture, customs and lifestyle. Germany resembles a beautiful rose wisely hiding its thorns, one might never get the chance to see them yet if it happens it’s vicious.

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1. Research

Prior to your departure consider spending hours on your laptop doing research on this precious country. Find out everything there is to know respectively everything on your best interest. Make a list of all the touristic attractions you are interested on visiting and the way on getting there. Come up with a strategic plan, after you’ve decided for how long you’ll be staying and where, allowing you to see everything without losing any time possible.

Check out the working days, working hours and the time when those institutions go on a lunch break so you don’t end up empty handed. Look for possible holiday days since in Germany everything is closed on holidays for sure.

2. Weather

Weather in Germany is highly unpredictable. The temperatures are relatively low, even during summer days and you can always expect a sudden rain shower. Spring is rather beautiful and peaceful making it a great time to visit this country.

Summer is vibrant, crowded and loud. Autumn on the other hand is German holiday month and if by any chance you’re planning to go there this time of the year, Oktoberfest among others would be your final destination.

Germany is vicious during winter, skiing and other snow sports being the only attraction. If you are planning to go to Germany in winter make sure you have friends so you can enjoy inside in the warm dinners and gatherings.

3. Accommodation

If you are travelling on a tight budget, spending most of the money on some fancy expensive hotel where you will spend little or no time except the sleeping hours is unthinkable. Whether you are staying just for a couple of days or more there are a lot of other inexpensive options to choose from, not luxurious yet comfortable, clean and very homelike.

An affordable room at a youth hostel  is the first; most of the hostels in the big cities are localized in the central parts therefore you will have access to shops, grocery stores, public transport, cafés and restaurants as well as the historic monuments and museums worth visiting. Besides, hostels are mostly run by youngsters making it the perfect place to meet friends and enjoy this adventure altogether.

If you are more of an introvert cherishing intimacy a bed & breakfast facility would suit your persona. They’re usually run by elderly couples, not always though, with an utterly clean and cozy ambient. People prefer this type of accommodation when they want to have a peaceful time to reflect or do some reading while they are there. It’s also a great ambient to write or work on your thesis after spending hours doing research out front.

German people are quite flexible on sharing rent with complete strangers therefore if you are going to be there for quite some time consider this to be a golden opportunity. This way you will have more space, a kitchen and the feeling of belonging something no tourist facility won’t be able to provide ever. Also, you’ll be able to stop feeding on wurst and doner for once and start cooking healthy meals for a lot less money. Sharing an apartment in Germany is by far more economic than staying at any hostel whatsoever, of course when your plan is to stay longer.

4. Public Transport

Public transport covers most parts of the cities, prolonging its way to suburbs and the closest cities. It’s very well connected and ridiculously fast, its trains and they run on their own tracks avoiding this way the car mayhems. Getting a daily ticket is cheaper, and if you are going to use it every day try getting a weekly or even monthly pass.

5. Visa Requirements

Whether you need a visa or not depends on your country that you currently have residency. Germany is in the Schengen zone, so you will need a Schengen visa to enter. If you’re from a country that is in this zone, you don’t need a visa. Just to be sure it’s best that you check what countries are required to apply for a German visa.

Every expat in Germany is acquired to seize Health Insurance. If you feel like nothing will ever happen to you and this is just a waste of money, think twice. A common flu in this country will be fatal for your not so deep pockets if you are not insured.

If you don’t know German, health insurance is called Auslandskrankenversicherung and it’s best if you buy it from reputable companies such as Allianz or Mawista.

6. A Minimalist Approach

Travel light; if possible fit everything in your backpack. In Germany a universal warm jacket is a must, boots too, the rest of the stuff can be layers. Unnecessary baggage will slow you down, irritate and limit your flexibility.

7. Culture Clash

As every other country Germany has its own list of odd customs considered part of their culture.

  • They are not keen on kissing in the cheeks or hugging, especially not in the beginning so a firm handshake while keeping eye contact will knock them on their feet.
  • There is some truth on the punctuality myth therefore try not to be late, and it you are ask politely for forgiveness.
  • Germans have a twisted sense of humor so don’t take it personally unless it’s intended so.
  • Greeting is very dear to this culture. You will greet your neighbors in the doorsteps, people in the supermarket or public transport, other patients that come and go at the doctors’ clinic and so on, the elderly on the street or the unknown colleagues in the elevator. Smile and say guten tag!

8. Go Local

Whatever you do, don’t isolate yourself among internationals. Try to meet German friends and see Germany through their genuine stories and experiences. Cherish the underground Germany, the Germany of the people not the one you see on the pictures or movies. Go, local!

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